Movin’ Out-Again

Is that the sound of a hot rod peeling out of a suburban driveway again? The opening strains of Billy Joel’s 1977 single “Movin’ Out” are surely dancing in the heads of East End brokers, who once again have one of the crooner’s properties to sell-even though this one won’t be a record breaker.

The native Long Islander just put his $7 million North Haven waterfront home on the market, a mere five months after buying the place in December-and without ever having lived there. When an exclusive roster of East End brokers checks out the property in a series of upcoming open houses, they’ll have a chance to see for themselves why the place might merit the $8.5 million price tag it’s now wearing.

“I know it’s something he changed his mind about,” said Mr. Joel’s spokeswoman, Claire Mercuri, when asked about the move. “I have no idea why.”

One reason that Mr. Joel liked the place when he bought it, Ms. Mercuri told papers last fall, was that the 5.6-acre property has its own deep-water dock. Mr. Joel, who sidelines as the proprietor of a boat-building business, is a big boating enthusiast.

Theproperty, which neighbors the summer homes of fashion designer Nicole Miller and singer Jimmy Buffet, has 340 feet of sandy beach frontage. The house has five bedrooms, four-and-a-half baths, a five-car garage, a new tennis court and a pool. Mr. Joel’s purchase of the property on Dec. 5, 2001, capped a long-running sequence of stories in local papers chronicling his 21-month search for a new home, begun after his record-setting sale of a 12-acre oceanfront estate in East Hampton to comedy king Jerry Seinfeld for $32 million in March 2000.

Mr. Joel spent a brief time in Glen Cove on the island’s north shore, closer to the city and further from the Hamptons social scene that had reportedly been getting on his nerves, only to return to the Hamptons market to be closer to his daughter, Alexa, who had lived with her mother, former model Christie Brinkley, in Water Mill. He was reportedly renting in Three Mile Harbor until his deal on this place closed over the winter. But recent reports have Ms. Brinkley and her husband, architect Peter Cook, listing their historic, 21-acre Tower Hill estate on the East End for $25 million.

If Mr. Joel made a bid on that property, he’d still come out way ahead in the Hamptons’ rocky real-estate market, and have something almost as impressive as the estate he sold to Mr. Seinfeld. But then, he’d still be on the East End.

Zen and the Art of Home Improvement

Richard Gere is giving the house he and Carey Lowellownin Southamptonamajor makeover. The Unfaithful star started work in January on a two-story addition to his $2.75 million house on 70 Halsey Avenue, replete with a deck porch, trellis and a new shed.

“It’s very tastefully done,” said broker Judi Desiderio of Cook Pony Farm, who has seen the construction. “We’re not talking about white elephants here.”

The last time Mr. Gere made an addition to his home, things didn’t go quite so smoothly, The Observer has learned.

In 1998, Mr. Gere-who is very open about his Buddhist religious beliefs-erected a wooden meditation temple on the roof of his Greenwich Village townhouse at 184 Sullivan Street. City records show that neighbors filed several complaints about the construction, which Mr. Gere began without a permit. The complaints were all resolved.

“Rumor had it, it was partially built to accommodate the Dalai Lama when he was visiting,” said broker Scott Allison of Insignia Douglas Elliman, who has seen the temple from atop a house he sold nearby.

“It was distinctly untraditional architecture” by Western standards, at least, Mr. Allison said. “It had an obvious Eastern flavor.”

Both of Mr. Gere’s properties are registered under the name Tushita, a Buddhist meditation center in the Himalayas that Mr. Gere has visited.

upper east side

6 East 76th Street

Three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom co-op

Asking: $1.695 million. Selling: $1.585 million.

Maintenance: $1,200; 40 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: nine months.

(NOT) STRICTLY BALLROOM When President Theodore Roosevelt ducked out of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 1905 long enough to give away his niece, Eleanor, in marriage to her distant cousin, Franklin Roosevelt, New York seemed the capital of the world. The ceremony took place in the “ballroom” of the 1893 two-family limestone mansion at 6 and 8 East 76th Street, formed by combining the two families’ adjacent living rooms. Ninety-seven years later, the President’s from Texas, and New York-well, just ask this husband and wife, lawyers both, who decided to return to the Lone Star State and put their apartment in that very same building on the market. In the year and a half they lived there, the couple added a top-of-the-line Poggenpohl kitchen to complement the 22-foot-high ceilings and sprawling terrace area. Even though the ballroom is no more, a Victoria’s Secret model came close to signing a deal on the place-only to be counseled by her broker that now was not the time to buy. Philip Altland, an Insignia Douglas Elliman broker who represented the sellers, finally found a couple for whom the Upper East Side seemed a safe haven: a Tribeca couple who wanted to get away from Ground Zero.

upper west side

23 West 73rd Street (the Park Royal)

One-bedroom, one-bathroom co-op.

Asking: $435,000. Selling: $415,000.

Maintenance: $1,007; 58 percent tax – deductible.

Time on the market: three weeks.

LOVE THE ONE YOU’RE WITH Chris Cockfield was sitting by a river on a South African safari when she broke down in tears and decided it was time to make some drastic changes in her life. The single, 34-year-old Birmingham, Ala., native was working “insane hours” as a regional sales manager for a hospital-equipment company to pay for her Central Park West apartment, and it felt as though her heart “had just shriveled up …. It hit me in that environment that I was investing in the wrong things,” she said. “It’s not about an apartment, or money, or a résumé; it’s about loving the people you’re with.” Upon returning to New York, the deeply religious Ms. Cockfield quit her job and became a fund-raiser for an international Christian mentoring organization called Young Life. “I’ve gone from hanging out in operating rooms with neurosurgeons to hanging out in pizza joints with 14-year-olds,” she said. Though the new job has infused Ms. Cockfield with a renewed sense of purpose, it unfortunately doesn’t pay the rent on her pad in the Park Royal, a “drop-dead gorgeous, prewar one-bedroom co-op with the prettiest lobby in New York,” according to Mary Jo Palumbo, a Bellmarc broker who handled the sale for Ms. Cockfield. They had a signed contract in January, but it took four months to close. The delay, it turned out, was a boon for Ms. Cockfield. It took her about that long to find another place she could afford on the Upper West Side: a junior one-bedroom right across the street from her best friend. “God was in that, too,” Ms. Cockfield said.

flatiron district

54 West 16th Street

One-bedroom, one-bathroom co-op

Asking: $439,000. Selling: $439,000.

Maintenance: $756; 47 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: three and a half weeks.

progress every day An executive at Verizon in his early 50’s didn’t have to wait very long to find a bidder for his 1,000-square-foot one-bedroom apartment on the 14th floor in this Flatiron-district building. And when a second couple-from China-offered an even sweeter deal to pay the full asking price for the place, he even had a bidding war on his hands. The Chinese couple won out, but when the World Trade Center collapsed, the seller was in a fix: His buyer worked for a Hong Kong–based financial company that got jittery about keeping its New York headquarters open in a post-9/11 world. No job, no loan, no co-op. The deal was stalling badly. Fortunately, just a few days before a bank loan officer called to check up on the buyer’s employment status, the Hong Kong company took office space in midtown. “It was by luck that this one went through,” said Lew Lydiard, an associate broker with Charles H. Greenthal & Co., who handled both sides of the deal.


One D own, One to Go: Diane Sawyer and Mike Nichols Sell Fifth Ave. Digs

Diane Sawyer and Mike Nichols are finally ready to settle down on Fifth Avenue-in the former home of their Horse Whisperer neighbor at 1030 Fifth, Robert Redford. And they’ll make the move with some cash to spare, now that they have sold the apartment they were originally going to move into at 910 Fifth Avenue.

Neighbors of Mr. Nichols and Ms. Sawyer wouldn’t have seen much of them at 910 Fifth; though the couple began a down-to-the-concrete-castings renovation of the place shortly after buying it in 1999, it was on the market again almost as soon as the renovations were complete-and had stayed there until late March of this year.

The 4,300-square-foot penthouse apartment at 910 Fifth-which last listed at $14.5 million-was going to be Ms. Sawyer’s and Mr. Nichols’ new home, but renovations can make a person tire easily of even the most impressive homes.

“It was nice enough,” Mr. Nichols told The Observer . “But we liked the one that became available at 1030 Fifth better.”

Though Ms. Sawyer and Mr. Nichols never moved into their 910 Fifth Avenue penthouse, they did admire its 1,600-square-foot terrace, with views over Central Park. Their new place is no slouch in that department, either: It was Mr. Redford’s terrace views that attracted them to his apartment in the first place.

Some improvements the couple made at the 910 Fifth Avenue penthouse include the redone two bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms, a library, a study, sycamore-paneled walls and maple floors.

When Mr. Nichols and Ms. Sawyer bought the place in 1999, the asking price was $7 million. After a year of renovation, they put it on the market for $15.5 million. By the time they had a signed contract on March 30, the asking price was $14.5 million.

Mr. Nichols was mum about just how much he and Ms. Sawyer netted from their investment.

Their old apartment at 1030 Fifth is currently on the market for $12.5 million; they bought Mr. Redford’s place for just under $10 million. Movin’ Out-Again